April 17th would normally be an off day for cross country coaches, but it will be a big day for University of Mobile alumnus and men's and women's cross country coach Alastair Stevenson.
Stevenson will run in the London Marathon, which is one of the five premier city marathons that make up the World Marathon Majors competition, which boasts a $1 million prize. It is a 26.2 mile run through the streets of London and finishes outside Buckingham Palace.
"This will be my 10th marathon overall and my 3rd London Marathon, so I am very much looking forward to it," Stevenson said. The Dover, England native has also run in marathons in Washington D.C., Disney World, Chicago, New Orleans and Memphis.
The London Marathon offers a great atmosphere and a chance to raise money for charity. The marathon has raised over $500 million for charity since 1981 and holds the Guinness World Record as the largest annual fund raising event in the world. Runners raised $50.6 million in 2010.
"This year I will be running the London Marathon for Children with Leukemia," Stevenson said. "They do a phenomenal job of fighting childhood cancer and are an outstanding charity that funds research, treatment and support for families of children who suffer from Leukemia. It is nice knowing that the money I raise through running can help to save young lives."
As for the atmosphere; "In previous experiences, there were 38,000 runners and what seemed like a million people lining the course, cheering you on to finish," Stevenson said. "I remember wanting to stop at my first London Marathon, but the crowd simply wouldn't let me."
Running in prestigious marathons takes plenty of determination and preparation, and it is even more difficult when you are balancing two jobs, as Stevenson also teaches at Ella Grant Elementary.
"It takes a lot of dedication and there is no cutting corners when training to run 26 miles, so you have to run every day, even when you do not feel like it," Stevenson said. "The weekly endurance run is the hardest for me, as you have to run for 2-3 hours. To balance with my work, I get up at 4:30 a.m. and run before my work day begins."
Stevenson finished his first year of coaching cross country at the University of Mobile in 2010, after graduating from UMobile in 2001 with a bachelor of science in human performance and exercise science. He ran cross country and track all four years at the school, qualifying for the NAIA National Championships each year in cross country and two times each in track and indoor track.
In 2008, he received his master's of sports science from the U.S. Sports Academy.